Christian IV of Denmark


December 6, 2021

Christian IV, da. Christian 4., born April 12, 1577, died February 28, 1648, was King of Denmark and Norway 1588–1648. He was the son of Frederick II of Denmark and Sofia of Mecklenburg. The king's slogan was "Regna firmat pietas", piety strengthens the kingdoms. With almost 60 years on the throne, he is the longest reigning monarch in Denmark's history. Kristian was elected heir to the throne in 1580 and at the death of his father in 1588 was almost eleven years old. The Riksrådet therefore appointed a guardian government consisting of four members of the Riksdag. He received a fairly well-groomed upbringing, which, however, suffered from the tug-of-war between the German-favored German and the Danish influence claimed by the nobility. In 1593 Kristian took over the government in Schleswig-Holstein and in 1596 in Denmark-Norway. With zeal, Kristian devoted himself to the government; he was particularly interested in Norway, castle buildings, strengthening the defense and foreign policy. Christian IV entered into two marriages, the first time in 1597 with Anna Katarina of Brandenburg and the second time (morganatic) in 1615 with Kirsten Munk. He died in 1648 at Rosenborg Castle and was buried in Roskilde Cathedral. The son Fredrik III succeeded his father on the throne. Kristiania, Kristianopel, Christiania and Kristianstad are examples of places that have been named after Kristian IV.

Economic policy

Financially, Christian IV pursued a business policy. He gave trade monopolies to the trading cities, established the Icelandic, Greenlandic and East India trading companies, and in 1616 he acquired the colony Trankebar. In 1619, the king sent Jens Munk on his way with the frigate Unicorn and the hunt Lamprenen to find the sea route to India and China north of Canada. Before leaving, the king himself, during a service in Holmen's Church in Copenhagen, spoke to the 64 men who would take part in the journey.

Military defeat

The king had ambitions to make Denmark-Norway the strongest power in northern Europe politically, economically and militarily, but had major problems in preserving the Danish leadership role where the Swedes pursued a strong expansion policy. The fleet was greatly expanded, but Denmark never succeeded in bringing together a peasant army that could be equated with the Swedish. The Kalmar War of 1611–1613, which was waged with expensively paid mercenaries, did not yield any results, as the two countries were equal in military strength, and Kristian had to state his ambitions to re-establish the union with Sweden. Kristian then turned south to expand the Danish influence there. Despite the resistance of the Danish parliament, he dragged Denmark into the Thirty Years' War in 1625, a company that ended in failure and a period of occupation and plunder of Jutland. The failure diminished Kristian's authority and increased the tension between him and the nobility. His foreign policy then came to focus on preventing Sweden's expansion of power in Germany. From a political standpoint, the action was correct, but his challenging but not sufficiently supportive policy led to the catastrophic war with Sweden 1643–45. In 1643, the Swedes tried to direct a death blow at Denmark through a pair of pliers. The Swedish field marshal Lennart Torstenson moved into Jutland from the south, and field marshal Gustav Horn from the north into Skåne. In Denmark, the war events are called Torstenson's war and Horn's war, where the 67-year-old Kristian IV in 1644 led a naval battle on Kolberger Heide. During this naval battle, the king lost sight of one eye, when a Swedish bullet hit a cannon on the Danish flagship Trefaldigheten. The war ended with a Danish defeat, and with the peace in Brömsebro, the Danish dominance in the Nordic countries ceased. After this, Christian IV had to comply to a greater extent with the Riksdag in Denmark.

Successful client

Although Christian IV's reign was marked by military defeat and economic decline, many Danes believe that this period was a yellow

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